Are Tankless Water Heaters More Reliable Than Full-Tank Models?

tankless water heaterThe tankless water heater market share continues to surge in the U.S. Within five years, tankless units are predicted to represent fully 25% of all residential installations. The primary factor driving this shift from traditional water heaters to tankless models is simple: no tank. That big, 30 to 50 gallon storage tank has always been a major drawback in water heater reliability and efficiency. Here’s how tankless models improve upon the conventional design:

Improved Reliability

Often requiring replacement in less than 10 years, a common residential storage tank heater typically has the shortest expected service life of any major appliance in the home.

  • Mineral deposits naturally present in water accelerate internal corrosion inside the tank.
  • When these water heaters fail, almost 70% of the time the result is substantial leakage or even a total tank rupture.
  • Conventional storage tank water heaters are among the most common causes of acute indoor water damage. The average cost for water damage recovery after a major water heater tank rupture is over $4,000.

A tankless water heater normally lasts at least 20 years before requiring replacement. As with any plumbing fixture, minor leaks may result over time. However, since there’s no risk of a tank rupture releasing a large volume of water, the potential for major water damage is greatly reduced. Tankless units installed indoors typically incorporate a metal drain pan that effectively contains any minor leakage and conveys it away through a discharge pipe.

Enhanced Efficiency

Water inside a storage tank heater inevitably cools when the unit is on standby, requiring repeated reheating to maintain the desired temperature. This results in more gas consumption and higher monthly bills.

A tankless model heats water on-demand. When someone opens a hot water tap, the compact heater actuates and heats the flow of water passing through the unit. When demand for hot water stops, the heater shuts off.¬† Since there’s no water stored inside a tank, standby heat losses are eliminated and efficiency is enhanced. A tankless unit can be at least¬† 25% more energy efficient than a storage tank model with similar capacity.

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